EDITO: Security in the DRC must be a global concern

By The East African

Were it not for its tragic nature, news of yet another Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attack on a civilian convoy in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on September 1 might have passed without arousing a second glance. . But the numbers and images from Wednesday’s ambush of a 100-vehicle convoy as it made its way from the town of Butembo to Beni were too grim to ignore and once again highlighted the insecurity that has held the region hostage for longer. more than two decades.

Four people have been confirmed dead, more than 80 are missing and almost all the vehicles in the convoy have been set on fire.

In a video that has gone viral, a frightened woman whose fate is unknown is seen praying to God, wondering where to run as the sound of gunfire is heard from the rear and front of the convoy.

For the umpteenth time, the carnage raises questions about the functionality of the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of the Congo, MONUSCO, and what is sustaining instability in eastern DRC. With 14,000 boots on the ground and a continuous presence in the country for two decades, Monusco has developed a certain institutional memory and the agility to better deal with insecurity. It is one of the largest and oldest UN missions in the world.

With an approved strength of just over 16,000, of whom at least 12,000 are combatants.

Yet, in the face of frequent failures to prevent attacks on unarmed targets, its value can only be imagined in terms of what might have been, if it weren’t there.

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The need to pacify the mineral-rich country should be a matter of regional and international concern. As the global economy pursues a green future, it will need a peaceful Congo. Home to 60% of the world’s reserves of cobalt, a key element in the manufacture of electric batteries, a peaceful DRC means cheaper minerals and a more economically efficient green future.

Regionally and continentally, the DRC is the next big opportunity and fast-moving players are already taking the risk of establishing a foothold there.

This march of commercial prospectors from East Africa and the integration of the country into the East African Community will be slow and costly at best if nothing is done to secure the populations and resources of the region more credibly. This will require the international community to engage more with the DRC mission and the African Union to create a framework for highly motivated neighbors to intervene to do so.

Although the ADF have long been associated with international terrorism, Western donors to the UN have tacitly denied this classification as it would impose a duty on them to intervene.

In the end, East Africa wins or loses. The ADF and the plethora of local militias succeed mainly thanks to an overstretched national army and a lack of infrastructure, which slows responses to any breach of the peace.

Teresa H. Sadler